The US Food and Drug Administration have approved Incyte Corporation’s Jakafi. Jakafi has been the first drug that has been approved for the disease and will now be used to treat patients with polycythemia vera (PV), which is a very rare blood cancer. The patients suffering from PV fail to maintain a consistency in the blood count level in the body, and also hematocrit levels. They have also high risk of blood clotting.
“The team at Incyte is proud that a second indication has been approved for Jakafi, further confirming the strength of our science and our commitment to discovering and developing innovative treatments for patients with cancer,” said Hervé Hoppenot, Incyte’s president and chief executive officer.
Jakafi is a JAK1 and JAK2 inhibitor. It targets overactive JAK pathway signaling, which plays a critical role in the development of both myelofibrosis and polycythemia vera. According recent researches, the condition known simply as PV has been known to affect approximately 50 out of every 100,000 patients in the United States. Out of these 50 patients, about one-quarter of all patients will experience drug resistance to or intolerance for hydroxyurea. However, the condition mostly affects people over the age of 50 and more often affects men and women; scientists still don’t know the reason.
“The approval of Jakafi represents an important advance for patients with uncontrolled PV. For the first time we are able to provide these patients a treatment that has been shown to provide effective and consistent control of their blood counts and reduce spleen volume,” said Srdan Verstovsek, MD, Professor, Department of Leukaemia, Division of Cancer Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
PV may occur at any age but often presents later in life, with a median age at diagnosis of 60 years. Some common symptoms of PV are fatigue, itching, night sweats, bone pain, fever, and weight loss.